Pinoys worry about safety amid London riots

By Jomel Anthony Gutierrez, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Aug 09 2011 12:53 PM | Updated as of Aug 10 2011 10:05 AM

LONDON – Almost two weeks after London started its countdown for the Olympic Games in 2012, it is now in trouble after riots and attacks spread across the city.

Filipinos in South London, especially in Croydon, one of the city’s biggest boroughs, are worried about their safety in the area.

Looters everywhere but no police

Many of them witnessed the attacks in the borough that happened late in the afternoon on Monday or around 2 a.m. Tuesday in the Philippines.

A Filipina who doesn’t want to be named said she was alone in her flat when rioters and looters raided grocery shops located on the ground floor of their building and across the road.

“Many looters are wearing hoodies. They were taking out lots of groceries from the shop while bystanders were just watching. It was scary,” she said.

She also noticed that while the shops were raided, the police were nowhere in sight.

“I could see from my flat that only people watching the looters getting as many grocery products as they can and putting them in a black bag surrounded the side of the road but no police,” she added.

Fearing for her own safety, she decided to stay with some friends overnight. She said her family is still in the Philippines enjoying their extended holiday.

She said rioters were not harming anyone. She noticed this when she left her flat and crossed the road where shops were looted.

“They were not touching or scaring anyone. They were just targeting the shops,” she said.

Guns out, cars stopped

A Filipino couple who went out to buy milk and diapers for their baby was shocked when rioters started breaking into a shop near their house.

Romel Neri and his wife, Coralyn, said young people wearing hoodies broke into the mini shop and started stealing goods.

“There were a lot of people in the road just watching what’s happening. Looters were nonstop getting anything they want from the shop. Some even tried to stop cars in the road maybe just to scare them,” he said.

But his wife, Coralyn, was frightened when one rioter unexpectedly took out a gun from his pocket.

“I was shocked when a rioter just in front of us showed his gun. My husband and I decided to go home as quick as we can after that,” she said.

Burned shops, cordoned high street

Croydon is a borough in South London popularly known as supermodel Kate Moss’ hometown. It is one of the metropolitan centers in Greater London.

There are many Filipinos who are living in the borough working as caregivers, health and teaching assistants and nurses. A Filipino shop in the town center had just opened to cater the needs of the Filipino community here.

But the fresh attacks of rioters in the town on Monday have tainted the peaceful image of Croydon.

According to reports, rioters set fire to several shops in the area including a furniture store. Cars were also burned in the middle of the road. Transportation was also disrupted throughout the evening.

The high street is now reportedly cordoned to protect other shops that have not been successfully attacked by violent rioters. Popular retail shops are established in Croydon’s high street including Marks and Spencer, Topshop, Carphone Warehouse, Debenhams, Zara and others.

As of this posting, other cities in the United Kingdom not only in London have been attacked by rioters. Riots have now spread from London to Birmingham and Liverpool.